Lavish 'elephant folios' from Egypt will make a big impression at Sotheby's

The rediscovery and excavation of ancient Egypt from the late eighteenth century onwards, following Napoleon's invasion in 1798, inspired some of the greatest and most lavish books of the nineteenth century.

These works were published on the grandest scale, both in their archaeological and intellectual scope, illustrations and pure size - they were not just folios, but 'elephant' folios, the largest book format, and they ran to many volumes.

The first to be published, after Denon's comparatively modest Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte was the 19 volume Description de l'Egypte, (1809-22) commissioned by Napoleon. This was followed Ippolito Rosellini's 12 volume I Monumenti dell'Egitto e della Nubia (1832-44) and Champollion's 4 volume Monuments de l'Egypte et de la Nubie (1835-45).

Egypt archive
Extensive Egyptian archive (£60,000-80,000)

All of these works appearin this sale, together with rare works of natural history, maps, atlases, travel books and topographical photographs. They should make excellent investments.

Another highlight is a large and extensive collection of original embroidery templates and artwork from the workshops of Dar Al-Kiswah in Cairo, together with manuscript ledgers, photographs and rare books relating to the Mahmal, the Hajj, Makkah and Madinah (these date from the late nineteenth to late twentieth century).

This includes a miniature Qur'an, to contrast with the huge works elsewhere in the sale. The whole archive is expected to sell for £60,000-80,000 in Sotheby's sale which takes place in London.

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